Hooniverse Asks- What's The Best Station Wagon Tailgate?

Whether you call it an Estate, Break, Avant or simply a Wagon, the commodious sedan with a plan that is the station wagon has been a staple of the auto industry for decades. Despite the encroachment of at first minivans, and then SUVs, and finally crossovers, wagons have continued to provide utility with a bit of panache, owing to their flexible cargo carrying capacity and stable driving dynamics. While most all wagons follow a standard theme of extended roof and squared-off rear doors, there has been a certain amount of flexibility in the rear-most access portal, and today we want to know, which one do you think is the best.

Long before cup holders and iPod integration began absorbing most of the auto makers’ R&D budget, they set their engineers on how to stay ahead of the competition in the tailgate wars. A common form was the fold-down gate with either flip-up or retractable glass. That allowed for long items to be placed on the lowered gate for short trips, but also provided easy egress for exhaust gasses or rabid raccoons. Studebaker took this form factor one step further in the sliding roof Wagonaire. Obviously, even that extraordinary innovation was not enough to keep the company from bankruptcy. Come to think of it, GM aped this design in their GMC Envoy XUV, and they almost went under too, hmmm.
Ford took the rear door in a different direction with their Magic Door Gate which, like Lindsay Lohan swings both ways. The Ford gate could fold down in the traditional manner, but that meant a long reach into the cargo area. A turn of the latch in the opposing direction allowed the door to swing open, giving you unfettered access and unstrained hamstrings.
GM, not to be left out, devised the first fully automatic wagon gate with their B-body clamshell doors. Anybody who has had to stand in the pouring rain, twisting the key in the lock to close the slow-moving door, might lump automatic doors along with automatic transmissions in their not so good ideas pile. But still, they where some of the most gee-whiz doors of any wagon.
These days, wagons are typically relegated to dull hatchback doors, with maybe a flip-up glass panel for those who like high lift-overs. The threats of carbon monoxide poisoning and rabid wildlife have made the fold-down gates things of the past, and of course GM doesn’t make the a car big enough to handle the clam back any more. Things may have gotten less adventurous in wagon design, but at least you have plenty of places to put you cups while plugging in your iPod.
So many wagons over the years, and so many clever ways for them to take it in the back. Wagons have been one of the most beloved body styles for American suburbanite and foreign fashionista alike, even in the face of the onslaught of competing form factors. Which one do you think had the best solution for tailgate technology, and do you think it would still work today?
Image source: [Miata.net, HowStuffWorks.com, CollectorMotors.com]

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2 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What's The Best Station Wagon Tailgate?”

  1. engineerd Avatar

    Nice choice. Mine is the only one that might rival it.

  2. Apad Avatar

    Wow Very interesting ideas ! ideas for my own blog (the 79 blogs maniacs) 😉 Thanks very much